December 04, 2006
A Tour of Asakusa

Just after the wedding both UltraBob and Tomoko caught colds so UltraMom and Heather were faced with a day stuck in the house or wandering Zushi on their own. That seemed rather dull to me, so I offered to show them a bit of Tokyo while the newlyweds rested.

At 14:06, I met them on the train platform at Tokyo station and we headed up to Asakusa to see the temple and do some souvenir shopping, followed by a stroll along the neon-drenched main drag of Ginza, then maybe a relaxing foot massage and dinner with Tod.

We never made it past the shopping!

The shops and stalls that line the street leading to Senso-ji are chockablock with gifts and foods. Standing at the big gate, you can barely see the temple in the distance, so highly decorated are the lane and the stalls. Everything is colorful and bright. There are crowds of people sauntering along, looking at samurai swords, key chains and rice crackers. We made it to the temple, sniffed the purifying smoke, got some mikuji, took pictures and then went back along the lane to shop.

I love visiting Asakusa, and it’s been a long time since I have been there with newcomers. I did my best to balance storytelling and education with letting them explore and discover things on their own. And no trip is complete as a “tourguide” without learning something myself. One of the shopkeepers showed us how to tie an overflowing shopping bag’s handles together to make it easier to carry.

We did meet Tod for dinner, but only after stowing all of the purchases in a train station locker! I didn’t count exactly how many things they bought, but I know there were two huge shopping bags full, plus a plastic grocery bag stuffed with extras. Everyone on their gift list is getting something Japanese for Christmas, I bet.

Hope we’ll have another chance to see some sights before they return to the US.

Posted by kuri at December 04, 2006 10:52 AM


Asakusa is wonderful. Some years ago I bought Sadako Sawamura’s autobiographical book “My Asakusa: Coming of Age in Pre-War Tokyo” which is told in short, vivid anecdotes. Great, great read. I think you would enjoy it. There is a particularly touching story of her mother’s decision to stop wearing her hair in the traditional wife’s marumage hairstyle.

Posted by: M Sinclair Stevens on December 8, 2006 12:14 PM

Thanks again, Kristen. That was a particularly fun day.The dinner with you and Todd was especially memorable…what was the name of that restaurant?

Posted by: UltraMom on December 15, 2006 11:18 PM

The restaurant was called Shin Mi En and it’s located in Nihonbashi, not too far from Tokyo station.

Posted by: Kristen on December 17, 2006 06:10 PM

Hey, nice blog! I visited Tokyo recently and my first venture out to find Asakusa for souvenirs landed me in Akaska. Careless of me! Have you really not learned the language in the years you’ve been there?

Posted by: Chris on December 18, 2006 11:12 AM

Chris, that Akasaka/Asakusa mistake is an easy one to make if you don’t read kanji.

In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve not learned enough of the language, I’m afraid, though every year sees some small improvement. I studied for several years after I arrived, but Japanese does not come easily to me and my reticence to speak it doesn’t help matters. But I get by OK and even have some friends who speak only Japanese.

Posted by: Kristen on December 18, 2006 06:17 PM
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